Dark Ages at the Burton Doubles 2018
Samurai vs Anglo-Irish
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Much to our amazement, a win in the first game (against someone who has even used our army before...) had positioned us towards the top of the table - although with every ADLG game ending in a decisive victory for one side or the other that maybe was not quite such a decisive advantage as it would be in other rulesets..
The lists for the Samurai and Anglo-Irish from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Burton_Doubles can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Galloping Godzillas! The afternoon draw had propelled us into a conflict with the Anglo-Irish army of Kevin & Andy. Having no real idea what might be in such an army we made a wild stab in the dark that it would be axemen, spearmen and a handful of knights. None of this intelligence made any difference whatsoever to our terrain choices, as we again defended and again managed to secure a place on table for the Castle Wall waterway to protect one of our flanks. The rest of the battlefield was scattered with fields and a cherry tree plantation.
Rules hint - "Plain" is the most common terrain type, and includes a compulsary field for the Defender. Most of the terrain is only classed as Rough Going, with a single Village - which only the Defender can pick - being the only piece of Difficult Going permitted. In ADLG Rough Going is pretty easily traversed - even Heavy Foot are not entirely useless in it.
With the Plantation sort of cutting our deployment in half, we had elected to shuffle the deployment deck a little.
This meant placing the cavalry command on the waterside flank and facing off against the probably enemy mounted wing with a long line of Elite bowmen and a couple of Average Heavy cavalry who lived in what was our biggest command.
The Irish had reciprocated in kind, with their Knights against the waters edge and an army that sort of petered out as it approached the other side of the table.
The Knights were keen to get into combat, but were few in number - an intriguing matchup for the Samurai Horsemen, who had shooting, the ability to evade, and greater width to put up against the ferocity of the Knightly charge - and the prospect of supporting samurai archery as well. The two armies sent forth their skirmishing light horse to open the battle with an exchange of arrows and javelins.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Knights are one factor up on Cavalry in pretty much all situations, making them a tricky frontal foe to deal with.
The Samurai brought their Light Horse back through their lines with alacrity as the enemy Knights steamed forwards single-mindedly. And, doesn't the Wall look cool here too..?
Rules hint - There are no naval units in ADLG, so a waterway just blocks off part of the table. So why not make it a wall - or an escarpment?
On the opposing flank the Irish had a cloud of lightly armed horse who were trying to infiltrate past our flank faster than a bullet train and before we could extend out to block them off. Whilst the 2 units of Irish bowmen left hanging in the breeze were presumably not entirely happy about the situation, this lopsided deployment did currently mean that a good 1/3 of our army was currently facing nothing but a delaying force as the Irish concentrated their efforts elsewhere.
Knights vs Samurai
The Irish Horse had to be stopped at all costs, otherwise they would be looking the fishtanks in the Samurai baggage in short order.
That cost turned out to be the health and well being of a Ninja-tastic Emeshi Light Horse bowman, who stood his ground to delay the advancing swarm of bog-dwelling pony riders.
Yet More Mad Japanese Sh-t
If the Samurai had a fish tank ready to provide their meals, the Irish baggage was equally culturally appropriate.
Whether it would survive the end of the battle intact was a different question - there seemed a good chance the Irish would loot it themselves before the day was done
If a ninja has five apples and he gives one to Jim and one to Susie, how many apples does he have left?
Five. And two corpses.
As the Knights continued to push forward alongside the Wall, the Samurai army spotted it's chance. With the Knights well set on their primary mission the Samurai lurched forward towards the Irish left where naught but a line of Bowmen and Longbowmen lay in the path of some of the most dangerous, and well-armoured men in the Samurai army. The Knights were placed in a quandary - turn to support their bowmen and they would be flanked by the Samurai Cavalry presently to their front.
With limited opposition on the left, there were plenty of spare Samurai bowmen and swordsmen to go around.
Astonishingly remembering the lessons from the first game, even the Ashigaru were being pressed into action to fix the front of a line of Irish Javelinmen on the opposite side of the table's leading contender to be an American Civil War battlefield feature - the Cherry Tree Orchard - supported by two of the spare Samurai from the left flank command.
The rest of their command were now firmly shutting the door on the advancing Irish - the entire line of Bowmen and Cavalry were sliding to the left as they advanced, shooting furiously to turn the sky black with Japanese hardwood-shafted arrows as the pushed forward
Samurai Archery in film
As dark storm clouds gathered in the land of the Rising Sun, next to the Wall the Knights had blinked - splitting their forces they despatched a unit to stiffen the resolve of the bowmen - who by now had started to suffer horrific casualties as the close formation Naginata-armed Samurai warriors carved them apart at close range. The Irish were plugging gaps whilst the Samurai were concentrating their forces.
How well do these troops fight then?
The Samurai army has a core of Heavy Infantry warriors, armed with 2HCW. Being heavy Infantry they are the most resilient troops in the army, needing to take 4 hits before they rout compared to the 3 needed to take out the Medium Bow, Swordsmen and Ashigaru who make up the rest of the army. They also suffer less against cavalry when caught in the open, as most mounted troops get better factors against Medium foot.
Inevitably taken as Elite, their 2HCW naginatas and katanas give them an extra +1 on any winning score, meaning they win 'bigger' than other troops by scoring an extra hit 50% of the time. The 2HCW also means they break a tie against Spearmen and Pikemen, turing a drawn result into a win for the Samurai, and also allows them to effectively ignore one level of enemy Armour.
Technically they should be based with 8 figures on a 40x30mm base, but as these are both very nice, and fairly big figures I've based them in 6's and 7's. They are clearly distinguishable from the "proper" Medium Foot anyway, so no worries on that front either.
The Celtic horsemen had had enough - sneaking past an undefended flank is one thing, but taking on a wall of well armed, well prepared Samurai Bowmen is something else entirely.
The Irish turned tail and fell back, and the chopstick-tastic Samurai moved forward towards the rest of the meagre screening force in their path.
The Irish army's Knights were doing well so far, putting the Big Red Hurt on the densely packed ranks of Samurai warriors.
Should they break through however the Samurai had plenty more warriors looking for a chance to be heroic as they poured more and more men into this increasingly vital part of the field of battle.
With the attention of the Knights distracted, this was the opportunity the Samurai had been waiting for. That, and a decent pip roll as well. Multiple units charged forward, throwing aside their bows and drawing their long, curved swords to hack mercilessly at the hapless and almost defenceless Irish bowmen who still were forming a huge part of their army's front line along the wallside.
The left flank was now a mopping up exercise as the Irish horse fell further back and the Irish bowmen fell beneath the rain of well-aimed arrows descending on them in steep arcs.
The Samurai general was able to start to devote resources to rallying up some of his units that had suffered attrition in their relatively untroubled advance.
Next to The Wall, seeing their bow-armed colleagues going on the offensive had invigorated the Samurai heavy foot, who had steadily chopped their way back to parity against the Irish Knights. One more hit for either side would see a hole open up in the middle of a line of battle - but the Samurai had plenty of reserves ready and waiting whilst the Irish had naught but a gaping chasm into which Japanese nobility could soon be pouring in celebration.
Across the table the Irish army was being pummelled on both flanks as the Galloglaich axemen who formed its most stout and potent heart inched forward, unsure of their role in a battle that had provided them with few frontal opponents and a wildly unsecured right flank in the shape of the Cherry Tree Orchard.
These Samurai were painted by Lurkio painting service. Most of them are Old Glory, with some Baueda added in too. You can see many more photos in the 15mm Gallery, and a walk-through of how the Wall and Village were built elsewhere on this website.
The Wallside battle was close - both sides were taking hits by the fistful in the prolonged close quarters fighting - but bit by bit, holes were starting to appear in the Irish lines as their bowmen proved not quite up to the task of holding back well trained skilled combat trained samurai warriors.
Katana vs Longsword
The left flank was now entirely ours, as the last Irish bowman in the delaying force was removed from play.
The Irish now had a new right flank - far closer to their centre than the one that had just been eliminated, but even so it was already under severe pressure as Samurai from the left wing poured into the end of the Irish line.
With casualties racking up on the Irish on both wings, the Warrior Monk command decided it needed to get a piece of the action, and charged recklessly forwards into the Irish line.
Another series of combats with both sides enjoying 2HCW additional hits caused carnage as the shellshocked Irish started to almost visibly wilt under the relentless pressure.
With a flourish, the Samurai cavalry broke off from the Irish Knights, exposing for all to see just how much damage had been wrought on the Celtic infantry supposedly supporting their horse-borne nobles. The Knights were practically surrounded, with Samurai Cavalry even now behind them as well as to their front. Nasty...
As the sun set over Mount Fuji, the Warrior Monks were also having just about the better of their face-off against the Galloglaich, but with both wings crumbling the Irish could ill afford even an even exchange of casualties as their army ticked steadily towards defeat.
Sweeping through Cherry Tree Orchard, Samurai bowmen gleefully rolled up the flank of the Irish Kerns, who now were longing for a return to the peat bogs of home.
The Samurai Cavalry wing swept back imperiously, and with unfailing politeness into the remaining Irish Knights - removing the Knights innate advantages in combat by dint of attacking them from three sides at the same time. This looked bad for Ireland, and good for Japan.
With the Kerns now swept away the Samurai were now fully engaged with the Irish centre. Bowmen who would have struggled to stand up to the Samurai frontally were being run over with devastating flank charges as the Samurai ran rampantly towards the heart of the Irish force.
The Knights were now down to just one unit, in a flank in which they were the sole survivors across a huge swathe of combat frontage.
Galloglass in action
Not since the two greatest Sumo wrestlers in history had fought themselves to a standstill had a mightier clash taken place than the one that was now transpiring between the Irish centrer and the Samurai and Monks. They hacked away at the centre of the enemy lines, even as the Irish flanks collapsed in the distance. Through the middle and over the top was apparently an equally valid way to win.
In a textbook example of the fastidiousness for which the Japanese are rightly famous, the Samurai left wing had continued forwards in an effort to completely tidy away every last piece of the Irish right flank. Now they had their chance to finish the job.
Nothing was left apart from detritus as the Samurai closed out the game.
Even the Ashigaru had played their part in a stunning and double-quick win - as was the case with the loss on Saturday afternoon at Usk, I was even able to get back to the hotel in plenty of time to hear the part of the first and the full second half as Fulham secured an equally stunning victory against table-topping Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Fulham vs Wolves
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Samurai Commander
That appeared to work much more effectively than we had feared - although once we actually flicked through the rulebook to check what was in the Oirish list (rather than just assuming it would be a load of old school Viking axemen with added Leprechauns) it did start to be a lot easier, especially as the terrain dictated where the Heavy Foot of the enemy would go, allowing us to avoid them.
The enemy horsemen were no real match for our combnation of Elite shooters on foot and horseback, as we could outshoot them confidently even though they had weight of numbers at the start of the game. Likewise outnumbering the enemy Knights with our Cavalry simply spread them too thin to be effective. NIce.
Now we've conquered their country I'm not entirely sure what these Irish chaps will make of the diet of raw fish we will be quickly imposing - for a country surrounded by water, they seem very keen on meat and potatoes, but not necessarily in that order.
At least whatever they grow, it is grown in Paddy fields. I'm here all week you know... !
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
That seems like a game in which you rode your luck like you rode the cows - fast, poorly aimed and straight into the enemy. Really there seem to be a slew of outcomes in this battle in which your Medium Foot took down better quality Heavy Foot in short order, which is surely not the normal course of events and not something you can plan for again.
This looks to me like a game in which you were fortunate to come up against an enemy who had too few battle troops and too many bowmen, which gave your men some easy wins as the archers are not really A-grade combat troops by any stretch of the imagination.
You were also fortunate that your wasteful deployment of your entire Cavalry force in the most congested area of the table panned out OK in the end, because had the enemy just marched forward with well supported Knights there is little you could have done to stop them.
The lesson from this victory are that there are no lessons worth learning in this victory - but there are some you need to un-learn for sure in time for the next game
See this game again on Youtube with commentary from the players
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition